Discuss the novel’s shifts in narrative perspective. What is the effect of presenting different character’s viewpoints, especially those of Victor and the monster?
Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein has a very complex narrative structure: “the narratives seem to grow organically from one another”. Within the novel, Shelley weaves characters and their different narrative perspectives together, creating a cyclical, triplicate layout to the story. Her use of multiple narratives provides a range of perspectives on the story, allowing us insights to the viewpoints of both Victor and the monster. However, there are some who argue that the book is full of misunderstandings and narrative conflict.
Frankenstein begins in epistolary form, which continues for four letters, allowing Shelley to introduce to her readers the character of Captain Walton, her vehicle to tell the story. Frankenstein both opens and concludes with a letter from Walton to Mrs. Saville, his sister, to whom he is describing the strange tale of Victor Frankenstein and his creation: “so strange an accident has happened to us that I cannot forbear recording it”.
There are striking parallels between the three narrators: for example, both Walton and the creature long for a companion: “I have no friend,” “I am alone, and miserable; man will not associate with me,” and Victor and Walton yearn to discover nature’s secrets: “I may there discover the wondrous power that attracts the needle,” “the world to me was a secret which I desired to divine.” These similarities intertwine the narratives, making it seem like these perspectives “grow organically from one another.”
Walton could be considered the principal narrator, as he is the one recording each account. Because of his position as chief storyteller, we must accept...